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https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Andrew213489

The Four Pillars of Learning Your Target Language!

This isn’t a knock at Duolingo, but it seems as though… many users here believe that Duolingo is going to make them fluent in their target language.

I’d like to share with you the four pillars of which have help me achieve my understanding of my target language.

1) Hand written flash cards – I know, I know, Tiny Cards are a free product part of Duolingo. My reasoning to make hand written flash cards is because it does something that Tiny Cards just can’t recreate. The activity of wrote memory.

2) Speaking with native (fluent) speakers – This activity causes the greatest problems as depending on where you live this resource might be non-existent. Depending on what country you live in there are other internet resources which can be used.

3) Listening to Music, Movies, etc. – It feels like this part of language get the most gripes. Sorry to say it but listening is the hardest activity related to learning a language. Unfortunately we don’t start off as active listeners. We start as selective listeners in our early stages as we only know a select few words. As your vocabulary grows and the more time you spend listening the more active in listening you will become.

4) Reading Books, Magazines, etc. – Make sure the writing is on your level of understanding. If you are trying to read Tom Sawyer by Mark Twains and only know 50 words in English. My guess is you should probably be reading Dr. Seuss. If you know 500 words maybe you could read a book series written for children ages 5 – 9 years of age. Plus this is the greatest activity which will grow your vocabulary. Much further beyond what Duolingo can offer.

Remember if your goals are reasonable to achieve you will learn… If they are unrealistic then you will only be setting yourself up for failure.

And continue to use Duolingo as a learning tool.

Good luck with your studies!

November 23, 2018

81 Comments

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https://www.duolingo.com/profile/labradore1

Whatever tools you use to learn a language, the real pillars are:

regularity: five minutes once a day is better than 35 minutes once a week.

repetition: yes, it gets boring. DuoLingo, among other tools, is very good at repetition. It starts to get annoyingly boring. When you reach that stage... it means it's working!

revision: keep reviewing material you've already learned, whether vocabulary, points of grammar, paradigms, etc. You'll forget things along the way, including oddities, exceptions, and irregularities. Periodic review of old material will help prevent wrong ideas from forming in your brain's understanding of the new language.

reaching: Don't be afraid to move ahead of your existing competence and comfort zone. You're on level three Portuguese? Go ahead and watch that subtitled movie. You won't understand much of the language, sure, but you'll get a better feel for the rythyms and sounds, and you might learn some idioms along the way. Skip ahead a chapter in the book - just be sure to skip back. There's no harm in knowing where your learning materials are leading you. As a native speaker of your own first language(s), you were surrounded from birth with people talking in ways and with words that you obviously didn't understand then. Incorporate elements of that natural immersive process into your active learning.

November 23, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Andrew213489

Very well said... The problem is that most of the Duolingo community thinks in Crowns, Levels, Lingots, XP and etc.

The topic you are discussing are what I define as my goals. Like one of my college professors once said, "for every one hour of class you have three hours of studying that must be done outside of class.", and sure enough for a good majority that's how long we had to study for.

November 24, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/little_sharr

Is there even a point to lingots? I mean, I gave away like, fifty the other day just because they annoy me. I don't think I've ever even considered the crowns on any course I've taken, or of levels...

Then again, that might be just because I'm a very lazy learner.

November 24, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AaronD.2

I occasionally drop 50 on a comment that I really like. I enjoy lingots enough for that purpose, I suppose.

November 28, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/dogomolo

You are just lazy. I have liked lingots and even still like them. There have been posts people telling they have 10000 lingots

November 24, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/little_sharr

Here, have a lingot. I have no need of it.

At this point, I have so many of the things I could buy a streak freeze a day for a couple of years. I'm not proud of them... they're just there. I tend to think of my learning progress in terms of how well I manage to read things and communicate with others, rather than how many points I have on something (whether that be here, or my preferred memrise).

shrugs

Dunno. I just don't get it, I guess.

November 24, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Emma666046

Totally with you. The 'gaming' aspect is totally pointless (ah pun!) to me. I'm using the app because it's the best I've found, and suits my commute learning style.

November 25, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/dogomolo

I believe you will never get the thing and that’s fine. But most users are fascinated by lingots, xp, streak ect. That’s the fact

November 24, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Dessert-Rose

Nice! It's The Four Rs! :D

November 24, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/labradore1

And above all else: don't be afraid to make those mistakes! They are learning opportunities!

November 25, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/The_Blobfish

I've never met a native speaker. I'm starting to doubt whether they really exist...

November 23, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jzsuzsi
Mod
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A native speaker of which language?

November 23, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/slogger

A speaker of "Native," of course.

November 23, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Andrew213489

Ding, Ding, Ding... We have a winner! hahaha

November 23, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Prussia1525

"I had one dream in life, and it was to pass my native fluency test at a C2 level."

I just can't keep up with the Native medical jargon! And the spelling of certain objects is just so weird . . . I might have to give up the language. :'(

November 24, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Polar_Pancakes

Never give up! It will all pay off in the long run :)

November 25, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Andrew213489

The truth is out there...

November 23, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Just-LB

@The_Blobfish, Look around online. There are Internet resources available where you can speak with a native speaker. I know at least one is italki.com, but I'm sure there are others.

November 24, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Andrew213489

Lloyd, the_blobfish's response was meant to be more tongue and cheek.

November 24, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/E.T.Gregor

About 1) Memorising vocabulary is important, but not everybody is going to be successful with cards, handwritten or not. It's never really worked that well for me. I would instead suggest that you find your own way of memorisation that works for you, personally.

November 23, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PomLearnin

I found flash cards work well for objects but not so well for feelings or circumstances, like telling someone you are ill, etc.

November 23, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/little_sharr

This is probably because it's very hard to visualise concepts. I find nouns are the easiest words to grasp no matter the learning method, followed by verbs... then it's the adverbs/adjectives and less common conjunctions. How do you put any visual representation to a word like 'usually' or 'because' (not that German helps by having what seems to be a thousand versions of each their conjunctions).

Have you tried making flashcards for a whole sentence that includes your target word? Perhaps that way, you might be able to tie the idea of it to the sentence's object? (You know, it would be easier to remember the verb for a thing like, say, skateboarding, if you remember a silly sentence about a worm doing it.)

November 24, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Andrew213489

Sure these activities will not work for everyone as we all have different methods of learning.

Vocabulary is vocabulary and we get it from different sources.

November 23, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/EpicRuler1414

Listening is much easier than speaking imo

November 23, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/slogger

wrote memory

= rote memory . . . although "wrote" memory is rather cool, the way you are using it.

November 23, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Andrew213489

Hahaha... funny you caught that, as I wasn't sure if anyone was going to pick up on it.

I was using it as a play on words.

November 23, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/little_sharr

Aw, and man, I thought that pun was totally serious. I really do remember things better if I've physically written them down before. Typing's okay, but a pen's even better. I bet almost nobody ever thinks about muscle memory when they're learning a language, but it definitely can play a part.

November 24, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Andrew213489

Wrote is the past tense of write. Rote is the activity of doing something over and over again to gain muscle memory.

I chose my word wisely!

And by the way... I would rather write it down which I feel give me a better connection to the activity I'm doing.

November 25, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/little_sharr

Yeah... I know what rote means. Still thought the pun was serious, though. I must've just been projecting my own love of duality on you. : )

Totally agree on the writing things down part, though — the motion of my hand seems to further cement the word.

November 25, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Andrew213489

It was serious! Hahaha I always have the thyme to be serious.

November 26, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/lavachequiri

but many users were happy telling that dl helped them speak the target language the first time they visited the foreign countries speaking their target language(s). i mean dl is still helpful if not great

November 23, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Andrew213489

Sure as a tool Duolingo is very useful to a degree. Just we need to accept the limitations which exist and not pretend that it will do more than expected.

November 23, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/dogomolo

This is well said :)

November 23, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/frenchanna

Great post. re: #4) I would be wary with a lot of children's books, including Doctor Seuss, unless they are specifically designed to teach reading. Seuss made up a lot of words that will confuse new readers. I recommend reading books where you're already familiar with the plot and story. For Italian, I have a translation of the first Harry Potter book (again, a lot of made up words, but I loved these novels as a kid). I also have some Elena Ferrante, because I've already read the English translations. I've also heard great things about Olly Richards series of short stories, though i haven't tried them myself/ https://learn.iwillteachyoualanguage.com/books

November 24, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Klgregonis

I'd also add that the vocabulary in fairy tales is actually pretty advanced. They are short, so there are fewer words to look up than you would find in a novel, but the writing and vocabulary is not necessarily simple. There are a lot of very short books specifically written for toddlers and/or beginning readers which would work for the first ones you try. I'd look for books written for seven to eight year olds - usually simple chapter books with a relatively limited vocabulary, and I'd also try looking for simply written books on science - because a lot of the vocabulary in science is pretty much the same from one language to another, so you can focus on the sentence structures. Goosebumps, Nancy Drew (I'm betraying my age), other adventure series. Now my confession - the first book I read in Spanish was Huckleberry Finn. It's one I've read many times during my life - about every 5 years or so - so I have great familiarity with it, which made it a lot easier. I also read it on a Kindle with an integrated dictionary, which makes it easier to look up words. Even so, I was looking up about every fifth word, and it would take an hour to read three or four pages. I persisted, and can now read novels only looking up about every fiftieth word, and it only takes me about twice as long to finish as it does to finish a novel in English. It is a good way to learn both grammar and vocabulary, after a while things begin to just sound right. I do recommend reading a translation of favorite kids books - with a copy of the English version readily available in case you get really stuck. (I find side by side distracting, because the translations aren't, and shouldn't be, exactly word for word)

November 24, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Andrew213489

Now that's funny... that you are writing about Goosebumps. I just picked up a copy of Bievenidos a La Casa de La Muerte de R.L. Stein from my local library.

I'm sure that I read it as a kid also. Which I hope to start sometime in the next couple of day after I finish El Principito de Antoine de Saint-Exupery.

November 25, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Andrew213489

Totally agree... here is the caveat!

Harry Potter is for a 13 to 18 year old. So if you are just starting off and only know approximately 500 words. You will be reading the dictionary more than you will be reading the book. Because your reading level will be that of someone ages 5 to 10 years old.

Which I define as a huge turnoff in the learning process. I want to say I achieved the completion of book x. Cause I sure don't want to admit that I feed the book to the garbage disposal because I got super frustrated.

November 24, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Heike333145

Harry Potter is for a 13 to 18 year old. So if you are just starting off and only know approximately 500 words. You will be reading the dictionary more than you will be reading the book. Because your reading level will be that of someone ages 5 to 10 years old.

I don't think so. When reading a story of which you can get the general gist, you will be able to deduce the missing words from context.

Thus you will expand your knowledge while reading the story. You just have to overcome the impulse to look up every word you don't know -- this is really disheartening, time-consuming and frustrating.

Just follow the story and look back every once in a while to look at these "unknown" words again after having read the context. You will be surprised at how much you can recognize now.

This has been my experience in English, French and Spanish, and now I'm starting with Italian and Norwegian.

I look up only those words that seem crucial to me and that I can't figure out after a few paragraphs.

Edit: Also "the first 500 words" that a little native speaker learns will be very different from "the first 500 words" that a learner of a foreign language learns.

So reading children's books for very young children can be very disappointing, too. And you will learn words that are not really appropriate for adult people.

November 24, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Andrew213489

All I can say is everyone is going to have a different experience of what they define as enjoyable to read while learning a new language.

November 25, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/frenchanna

I read the first four harry potter books at age 8-10 (the rest weren't released when I was older). They're classified as middle grade, not young adult (YA is targeted to teenagers, though younger people read them). I work in children's book publishing so this is sorta my area of expertise! I also reread them so many times that they are imprinted in my brain, so even when I don't understand all the words I can get the gist. It's been super helpful with helping me pick up new words in context.

November 25, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/hornetwasp12345

There's not much native speakers of Irish nor many books in Irish and if you're learning Navajo or one of these fictional languages there's virtually no resources.

November 23, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/daltojr

I "talk" to dead native speakers all the time. They happen to be the ones who have the best command of their languages.

No, I don't talk to ghosts. I read books.

November 23, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PomLearnin

In an age where writing was philosophy, culture, beauty, emotion and art

November 23, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/daltojr

Some of them are still alive!! :-)

November 23, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Andrew213489

Are you like the kid from the Sixth Sense... "I see dead people!"

Cause that is extremely weird that you speak to dead people.

November 23, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Free-Quark

Same!

November 28, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/unclehat

Good comments. Thanks for sharing. I particularly like your point of defining a reasonable (and achievable) goal. Keep that front and centre. Work towards that. Achieve it. Consistency is another pillar. Duolingo contributes very well to consistency. Small but regular repetition. Accessibility helps consistency. But the most accessible learning is rarely deep learning.

November 23, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Andrew213489

Unclehat, sure if you want to look at consistency as a pillar that works to. Just remember to take what ever you are going to do and make it yours so you can be successful at what you are doing.

In my opinion consistency is falls into the each and every activity which I have described. Which I might even define as the roof (backbone of the learning process) that sits on top of my 4 pillars of which I have described.

Of which each and everyone of us will find consistency to have a different meaning.

Good luck with your studies!

November 23, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/daffodil2015

Not to nitpick, but how is the roof a backbone? :) That's like saying the head is a backbone.

November 24, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Andrew213489

In reality? Never, yet in an abstract world... It could happen.

But then again! That's like saying "Mother is the backbone of the family."

How can a whole person be a backbone. Now this also should be nitpicked at... We should all go to a picnic to nitpick together.

November 24, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/daffodil2015

Nitpicking still at the picnic :) Mother can be a backbone of the family, in the sense that she holds it all together. The roof/head, on the other hand cannot be the backbone, because they don't hold it all together, they just sit on top of the backbone/ load-bearing columns. In other words, they NEED a backbone to stand upright :D

November 24, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/IrisM7

Give it a break guys, who cares- backbone, head. I thought we were sharing strategies for learning something new (mainly a language).

November 25, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LaurianaB

You are absolutely correct. Duolingo never claimed to make you fluent, I don't believe... but too often, people choose this as their only manner of learning a language, and certain important skills are lacking.

For example, speakers in movies do not sound or speak at the pace of the ones in the Duolingo exercises. You also cannot slow them down. So, you need to develop advanced listening skills by what you said, films, music, and all things of that nature. Media.

You have also made a good point with handwritten things like flashcards. There is something different between screen/paper and the connection it makes in the brain.

Speaking with "natives"...that is, in any way....most people can make this happen. If you don't meet fluent/native speakers in real life, you can join a community with voice chats or video chats and get going. I have done it hundreds of times...also, it is a bit less intimidating to talk to a voice across the ocean in your target language to start with, rather than a real person staring into your soul...lol

Need I elaborate more? You are completely on-point. Variety is the key to success and the way to stay sane and motivated. Have a lingot and my support!

November 26, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/dogomolo

The activity of wrote memory.

Do you have any reference of this phenomenon i.e. writing enhancing memorisation?

November 23, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PomLearnin

I am a note taking addict. There is definitely something about using a greater portion of your brain to read, speak and write something at the same time that cements it in your head.

I have a great memory, but I am a visual learning. So just hearing something I will forget absolutely everything I hear....

November 23, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Andrew213489

Without note taking how are you supposed to remember what you spoke about last Tuesday regarding project X.

Even shorthand notes are highly important because they provide us with the ability to draw a reference to some point in time that can be a critical moment in getting a project completed.

November 24, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Andrew213489

This article is form Cambridge, and I'm sure if you do a quick google search you too could find some medical journal/ medical study related to the subject since it's been studied for quite a while.

https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/behavioral-and-brain-sciences/article/working-memory-retention-systems-a-state-of-activated-longterm-memory/8D352879026CE0B8A7D66019CB5A1167

November 23, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Just-LB

I can tell you for a fact that when I took a study skills course in college, the textbook stated that note taking, i.e., writing, significantly increases retention of the information. Hearing and writing use two different parts of the brain, and they mutually reinforce one another.

November 24, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/little_sharr

I haven't ever seen a study on it, but I can personally say that I find every sense is involved in my memory and learning, and that sometimes my fingers recall a word on the keyboard better than my mouth does saying them. Plus, I remember words I've physically written before (with a pen) for a lot longer than those I haven't.

If you find a study into this, please do link it. It sounds an interesting topic.

November 24, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/pilgrim2k

Great information! thank you for putting that out. I use Duo-lingo for vocabulary and sentence structure. I agree that writing flash cards is the best for memory, I do that as well and it works. My big problem is the listening, i.e. movies and music. I do understand a lot of words but it is still difficult to put it all together. I have started going to a Hispanic church and listening to the sermons and the conversations before and after the service. Again I don't understand a lot but that is getting better, because there is a lot of repetition in the services. I do have difficulty with engaging in conversations as I get nervous and forget everything. I will keep trying though. Thank you again

November 24, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PomLearnin

Good idea. I found that churches are great environments to learn a language for a number of reasons: 1) If people can't be kind and helpful in building a supportive community at a church, then where.... They tend to be willing to be patient, understanding and help you where they can.

2) It is important to build a social network - not only in making friends who can speak the language, but it's also a great way to build a network to find job opportunities, get references for applications, find people who may have experience in the sector you want to/or in which you are working (there are specific terminologies in any career or industry which are specific to that industry or skill set. You will not be taught these terms in any language book. People in the church community with similar skills can help you with this and with CV writing and personal/cover letters for job applications)

3) Most churches these days are very aware of the benefits of multi-media in engaging with and growing their congregations. Many will have a language translation displayed in the church for Hymns, Bible texts, etc. If they don't have a translation displayed then suggest it to your pastor and offer to build up a bank of translations they can use. In this way you will be actively involved in helping others in the congregation, will help to grown your church's congregation and will practice your translation skills at the same time.

4) Churches tend to have tea and cake afterwards, so you have an opportunity to chat with people. In Sweden they call this 'Fika' and is a definite 'thing'. The church I attended the people there were so wonderful and welcoming and 'fika' was a great time to make friends, swop business cards, ask for advice, find out what else is going on, be involved in events, etc. It's an excellent time to just listen and let the language 'wash over you'. The types of colloquial expressions and gestures used. Language is physical as well as spoken communication. There is a language beyond words in how people express joy, surprise, congratulations, etc. In Sweden they use a lot of lilting sounds without words. So 'Yes' may be a sharp indrawn breath. And questions may be an 'Oh-hoh?' and then a further agreement or surprise on the following sentence may be a slightly different way of saying that, 'Oh, hoh-a!' So the first one may have a sound that goes down and the second one goes up in tone. You can be part of a conversation and sound supportive and involved by just learning the responses and pure 'sounds'.

5) Singing is a wonderful way to learn a language - what better way than to be handed a page of words and/or sheet music with the words on it. I joined a church choir and everyone thought I was wonderful because I could sing in Swedish. Little did they know I took at least 2 hours every week to translate every word. But very soon I could understand the sermons too, because similar words of 'praise' were used in them too.

Someone once said to me it is impossible to cry and sing at the same time. Obviously many songs are sad, but try it one day, you will find you always feel better after singing.

If a church environment isn't working for you, join a club (hiking or book club) - whatever takes your interest. Walking and chatting out in the open air in nature is a wonderful way to meet and make friends and to learn to chat without there being a huge pressure on have a whole heavy conversation. In a group you can just walk along and listen.

I found another excellent way to learn the technical language in one's industry is to read application notices with job and skills required descriptions. I tried learning and translating things like "I have experience in multi-media audience analysis and am skilled at finding and interpreting in depth consumer behaviour insights and trends" ; "synergistic multi-channel communication strategies".

Phrases like "multi-media software analysis optimisation skills" can be truly testing and sometimes you will just not find a direct translation at all - but your industry will have another phrase that you can learn and adopt to say as close as possible to the sense of your meaning / specific expertise industry

Write and rewrite your CV - you are going to need to answer questions on the terms in there in any telephonic or face-to-face interview, so you may as well have those terms 'down' and practiced.

Write certain phrases down and practice them -typical answers to questions people may ask you, or you them. "Where are you from?" "Where do you live?" "Do you have family living here?" "I have a brother, sister, son, daughter...." "What work do you do?" "I am a....xxx?"

Preparation for an interview will be around: Tell me about yourself What experience do you have? What interests you about this industry / job? Where do you see yourself in 5/10 years time? What do you enjoy? What motivates you? How do you motivate others? And.... learn how to ask for the salary you want. :o)

Write answers to these are practice them. Say the sentences with confidence sitting in a relaxed but professional posture (practice looking up and directly into the eyes of the interviewer - when we struggle with language we tend to look down and search for words. It looks like we are making things up when all you are doing is looking for the right words). Use the correct intonation and feeling to make the sentences sound natural.

Good luck

November 24, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Andrew213489

I was trying to keep this post inclusive not exclusive by turning it into a religious matter. When each of these points are a major part of living in today's world. Since they don't seem to end well.

Thanks for hi-jacking it into the religious zone PomLearnin.

November 24, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AaronD.2

There is nothing malicious about this person's post.

She shared some of her experiences with learning Swedish and some things she did that helped her.

She never even broached anything remotely dogmatic regarding Christianity. Were a Jew to discuss learning Hebrew through their synagogue on Duo, I would have no issue with it. Same with a Muslim learning Arabic through a mosque.

I sincerely cannot think of a reason for why you would be so opposed to someone saying what Pom said without impugning your motives and character.

November 29, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Andrew213489

Glad I could help! Conversation was hard at the beginning, yet since I have been going to a weekly free group plus speaking to people at work. It has gotten a whole lot easier.

One additional piece of advice if I may... It's okay to make mistakes and laugh about it. As adults we are more worried about being laughed at, than you laughing with them about your mistake.

Forget about your mistakes they will self correct over time. But it you don't make mistakes you won't improve either.

Now on the other hand, pronunciation you have to correct from the very beginning because that is creating a bad habit. If you don't fix it right away.

Good luck with your studies!

November 24, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/pilgrim2k

Thanks, conversations have always been hard for me just for that reason of making mistakes. I'm trying to get past that though.

November 25, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Caroline37409

Thanks so much for this! This will help a lot.

In my Spanish class, I get to be taught by a native speaker every session. They speak English, of course, but they also combine it with their Spanish. One time one of the teachers said to me "This is muy muy muy important."

Also in gaming I run across some players that speak Spanish. Even though it's typing, I can still talk to them a little bit. Of course I start out by saying, "Yo no hablo muchos espanol"

With number 4, do you know any books written in Spanish I could try to read? Beginner level.

November 23, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/daffodil2015

@Caroline - That is a problem with many foreign language teachers - they don't speak that foreign language in class. I know it was the same for me... until I got to University, where they ALL spoke the foreign language. We were completely overwhelmed, but in terms of learning it was loads better. Most learners don't form the habit of talking or thinking in the foreign language because they aren't forced to by their teachers. What helped me when I started out learning English was to try and hold short conversations (with myself) out loud with the words I was learning. Sure, you'll make mistakes, but you'll also train your brain into thinking in the language you're learning. The mistakes will not matter, as there is no other witness but yourself. The learning experience for your brain, on the other hand, is going to be invaluable. Good luck with your Spanish :)

November 24, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Andrew213489

Excellent point!

November 24, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Andrew213489

Caroline, I don't know where you are in the vocabulary. What I can suggest to you is... Not to be funny at all because this will seem kinda funny.

What books did your parents read to you when you were 3 to 5 years old? These books won't be exciting but what they will do is give you very basic and correct sentence and grammar structure.

If you feel like those book are too easy. Then you might want to take a look at books that you read when you were 5 to 9 years old.

Right now I'm reading El Principito by Antoine de Saint-Exupery.

Good luck with your studies!

November 23, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sharon275517

Caroline, my local public library has a small section of children’s books in Spanish, so I’ve been reading those.

November 23, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Andrew213489

Hahaha... that's where I get all my books as well.

I haven't purchased a book in almost 2 years. Since I am saving tons of money by not buying books. For every book that I borrow and complete... I set a side $1 dollar and donate it to the library system at the end of the year. Usually between $30 and $50 per year.

Great suggestion of a high quality resource which we should utilize.

November 24, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MyrixNever

Wonderful tips. Definitely the best way to immerse yourself.

November 24, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/HN701

Good summary. Thanks. Regarding reading, I don’t know about other E-Readers, but kindle has this functionality with dictionaries. You download a dictionary in your target language and when you read a book in your target language, you just long-press the words you don’t know and see the definition from the dictionary. Very useful.

November 24, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KimSYNG

This was a really helpful post. Please continue to post like this to benefit others!

November 24, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/CubaReady

Great tips! As a visual learner I'm a big fan of taking notes. And going back over my notes daily. But my greatest challenge with Spanish is hearing those little words. I watch a lot of Spanish television, and turn on the Spanish closed captioning on the English shows. So my hearing is improving thanks to Duolingo it helped a great deal.

Below is good site also for listening to other readings/stories and other tips: https://www.learnpracticalspanishonline.com/readings.html

I've also found that not rushing through the lessons simply to level up or finish is another pillar to add. Slowing it down a bit, has given me more confidence in speaking with in-laws and other Natives, ordering food and even with shopping.

Good luck with your studies as well!

November 24, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/YarkoRab

Thanks for sharing! I've been doing it according to your advice for some time, and I find it very rewarding. ¡Buena suerte!

November 26, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Andrew213489

YarkoRab, just remember it's all about trail and error with some of these activities to complement your studies. While activity X is perfect activity Y might be a total drag on your studies.

And above all else if you ain't having fun... you ain't learning!

November 27, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/hanspersson

All of this can be summarized to one really important thing: in order to really learn a language you have to use it, not just study it. That's all there is to it.

November 28, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Andrew213489

Thanks everyone for taking the time to contribute to this great thread. There was a lot of amazing follow up ideas that were shared which will help us all move forward in the learning process.

Good luck, with your studies!

November 24, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ClassicSteven

Of course Duolingo is just a start, but it is an excellent start. I agree on all of the above but the dang cards. Duolingo replaces the cards.

November 26, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Andrew213489

ClassicSteven, to answer your question as the wise men of RUNDMC once said, "it's trick, trick, trick!". With that being said, it can sometimes be yes and other times be no.

And yes, those dang cards can become quite cumbersome.

November 27, 2018
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